Our health and care needs are changing

Our needs today are changing from those the current health and care system was designed to address. People are living longer, society is getting older and more people are living with long-term conditions such as diabetes and asthma. Meanwhile, new technologies and treatments are being discovered that can improve the quality of care and treatment

The NHS is one of Britain’s proudest achievements, but was set up in a very different era and is far from perfect. For example, too many people are asked to repeat the same details of their illness to different people in several organisations during their treatment – annoying for them and not a good use of staff’s precious time.

What are some of the challenges?

  • The number of Reading residents aged 65 and over is expected to increase by more than 70 per cent from 2012 to 2037, compared to less than four per cent for those aged 20-64 over the same time. Likewise, the number of people aged over 65 in West Berkshire is increasing at a steadily higher rate than the English average. And a girl born in Wokingham since 2013 is expected to live to nearly 85.
  • It is great news that we are living longer but it places greater demand on our services. 65 per cent of people admitted to hospital today are 65 or older. 75 per cent of 75-year-olds in the UK live with more than one long term condition, rising to 82 per cent of 85-year-olds.
  • 13 per cent of West Berkshire residents say their day-to-day activities are limited because of a health problem or disability lasting, or expected to last, at least 12 months. Treating such conditions accounts for around £7 out of every £10 of total health and care spending in England, seven out of ten inpatient bed days, almost two-thirds of outpatient appointments and half of GP appointments.
  • Our needs vary greatly. An analysis of A&E attendances and unplanned hospital admissions in Wokingham showed that ten per cent of patients accounted for half of all health and care spending. And health can be linked to environmental factors – life expectancy for men in Reading alone varies by 10.2 years in line with the affluence of the council ward.